PORTLAND — Members of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee say they expect a full accounting of the accident that caused $38,000 worth of damage to the city’s fireboat Oct. 15, and information on why it wasn’t disclosed until a reporter asked about it four days later.

“I was not pleased, as a city councilor, to hear about this story” from the media, said Edward Suslovic, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, which will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. Suslovic said he has talked to residents who also are upset about the delay in disclosing the accident.

“Bad news doesn’t get better with age,” he said.

Two members of the Fire Department’s marine unit took the $3.2 million City of Portland IV on what city officials say was a training run on Oct. 15. Around sunset, the 65-foot boat hit a submerged object north of Fort Gorges. The impact sheared off one of the boat’s two shafts and damaged a propeller and the rudder.

A subsequent investigation by the city revealed that one of the firefighters had invited a dozen friends and family members aboard for the trip.

Firefighter Joseph Murphy, who was piloting the boat, was suspended for three days and Capt. Christopher Goodall was suspended for 10 days – both without pay – after Fire Chief Fred LaMontagne determined that the accident could have been avoided and that the two failed to follow proper procedures and Coast Guard regulations.

The City of Portland IV arrived in Rockland on Wednesday and was hauled out of the water in preparation for repairs that are expected to begin next week.

Raye Parker, superintendent of Rockland Marine, said Thursday that he expects the work to take two to three weeks, depending on how quickly parts arrive.

“It’s very straightforward. It’s not a catastrophe,” he said of the damage.

Parker would not estimate the repair cost, which the city has pegged at $38,000. The fireboat is insured with a policy that carries a $25,000 deductible.

This year’s total budget for the marine unit is $912,000. Wages and benefits account for $775,000 of the total, fuel is $30,000, routine repairs and maintenance are $32,000, insurance is $50,000, and equipment and miscellaneous costs are $25,000.

Suslovic said he leaves the question of discipline to LaMontagne and City Manager Mark Rees, but the council and the public need a detailed accounting of what happened and how the accident was handled by the city in the aftermath.

“My sense is there’s at least a perception that information has not been as forthcoming as it should be,” he said.

Suslovic and the two other members of the committee said they also expect Rees and LaMontagne to outline Tuesday what steps they have taken to ensure that civilians aren’t taken out on fireboat rides that aren’t for some sort of official purpose.

“It should be used for government purposes,” said Councilor David Marshall. “We shouldn’t see people going out on excursions.”

The department does not prohibit taking non-employees for trips on the City of Portland IV or the other two boats that are part of the department’s marine unit. A review of city records by The Portland Press Herald showed that more than two-thirds of the trips logged by the marine unit boats in 2010 were non-emergency, including a few that were considered “harbor cruises.”

The lack of a written policy for who is and isn’t allowed to ride on the boats is “kind of embarrassing,” said Councilor John Coyne, the other member of the Public Safety Committee.

Councilor John Anton, who is not on the panel, said Rees has been too reliant on LaMontagne for information and must do his own investigation. Rees said this week that he believes the ride for a dozen people on Oct. 15 was an “anomaly.”

“I’d like the manager to do some work of his own” before making that determination, Anton said.

Mayor Nicholas Mavodones said that although he would like to have been notified of the accident sooner, Rees and LaMontagne have handled the situation well. “I think they have acted swiftly in their investigation,” he said.

Mavodones said the Fire Department should have procedures for making sure that only “appropriate” people are aboard the city’s boats, but he doesn’t think situations like the one this month are common.

“I don’t see it as indicative of problems running through the Fire Department,” he said. “I have full faith in the fire chief. He’s been an incredibly competent chief.”

Mavodones has firsthand experience with marine accidents. In the early 1980s, while a captain for Casco Bay Lines, Mavodones ran a ferry boat aground near Cushing Island.

There was no damage or injuries, and Mavodones said the Coast Guard subsequently determined that depth charts for the area were incorrect.

At the time, Mavodones had a Coast Guard captain’s license because he was operating a boat with passengers. The Fire Department calls the firefighters who operate its boats “pilots,” and they get department training, but they aren’t required to be licensed.

“These things do happen to people with licenses,” Mavodones said.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

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